A custom builder known for constructing some of the most lavish homes on the barrier island is building a new 8,000-square-foot office building on the mainland, on westbound State Road 60 about a block from the Indian River County Courthouse.
Joe Foglia, whose projects include the notable Modernist home on Ocean Drive south of Jaycee Park boardwalk that is listed for $35 million and a 40,000-square-foot house in the estate section, plans to start building the two-story office building in four to six months at 1745 20th Street, across from the First United Methodist Church.
Foglia, who is developing as well as building the office project, closed on the grassy, tree-shaded, one-third-acre site a few weeks ago.
The land purchase, plus engineering and permit fees, cost Foglia $550,000. He said construction will run to seven figures and take about six months.
Last week, this reporter met Foglia and his development team at the site. Present were architect Hal Lambert and Lambert Commercial Real Estate brokers Ron Lambert and Billy Moss. (Hal and Ron Lambert are brothers but their architectural and real estate businesses are not linked.)
The office building site is sandwiched between The Flower Box at 1755 20th St. and a commercial building at 1717 20th St. Foglia said it has remained undeveloped as long as it has mainly because of the real estate downturn that crushed property values and demand for commercial space, beginning in 2008.
Ron Lambert said Foglia’s project will be the first new Class A professional office building in downtown Vero in six years. Its location, within the downtown business district, allows Foglia more flexibility in the design and development of the property, and he noted he is open to building offices suited to specific lease needs.
Hal Lambert, the architect, said one of the unique design features will be the building’s brick facade, which was inspired by the look of the old diesel plant, an imposing brick structure dating from the 1920s that is being rehabbed into a microbrewery craft beer restaurant a few blocks east, and by the historic Indian River County Court House, another handsome brick structure located nearby.
“The brick building will appeal to lawyers,” Hal Lambert said.
Foglia strolled along the sidewalk in front of the property and pointed to the current county courthouse, just a block away, which he said was a driver in building the office project at the 20th Street location, which will be handy for lawyers and others involved in legal proceedings.
“That courthouse – there is the draw,” Foglia said.
Foglia bought the land from Vero Beach-based engineering firm Schulke, Bittle & Stoddard, which had already won approval from the city to include the site in the official downtown business district. Foglia said that pre-approval was one of the things that made the site attractive to him.
An earlier design for the building included about 14,000 square feet of office space and multiple floors, but Foglia reduced the interior square footage to beef up parking space on site.
The current plan includes covered parking on the ground level for 21 cars, along with parking space for another six cars onsite. The office space will be one level up, above the parking area, with an attractive first-floor lobby providing access to the second-floor offices.
The lobby will have an upscale look, suitable for professional tenants.
“The lawyers like the pizzazz and a regal look,” Foglia said.
Some lawyers and accountants have expressed interest in the site, but no contracts have been inked.
Foglia said he would be open to selling the building to an end-user or to an office condo setup, in which occupants would own their portions of the building.